The A Word: Living in a Material World

With a great hat comes great responsibility

This is my last blog from our current home; I’ll be sad to leave but I don’t get too emotional over these things and I’m ready to move on to the next phase of our life.  Last week I said our house purchase had fallen through so our furniture is going into storage and we are heading off to Cornwall for the Summer.  Our business is completely portable as all our applications are in the “cloud” and we’re currently interviewing via Zoom so all is good.  I’ve also stopped worrying about my haircut, it doesn’t seem important in the overall scheme of things 😊.

This move has certainly made me think about “material possessions”.  We’re living in a highly materialistic society and, to some extent, lockdown has taught us that the best things in life are generally not “things”.

During my lifetime, our society has grown more materialistic.  Social media is partly responsible and there’s a lot of emphasis on the brand of clothes you wear or what car you’re driving.  Some people look at others who live in luxury and think that they are living a happier life than theirs. This is the impression that society embeds in our heads and leads to many of us spending our time trying to earn more money rather than achieving happiness.   In addition, our society doesn’t help as its constantly bombarding us to buy more because we live in a society that only functions if people continue to spend.

Whilst I don’t spend excessively, I do like nice clothes.  I’m fortunate that I’ve weighed around 56 kilos since my early 20’s so clothes I bought years ago still fit and I do look after them. There’s also an argument that wanting more in life is a good way to motivate ourselves.  I’ve worked hard since I was 18 often long hours in stressful roles as has my husband Jamie and it’s helped us to achieve a lifestyle that we are very content with.  That said, there are always compromises and I do feel I could have been a better  “Mum” if I hadn’t worked so hard.   Finding a happy middle ground so you can have nice things but not too many seems like a good plan to me.

The opposite of materialism is minimalism, and this also sounds attractive 😊.  This is someone who prioritises living with less to achieve freedom.  Freedom can be defined in lots of ways, financial freedom, freedom from “stuff,” even freedom from a place.  When you have a house full of new clothes or all the newest gadgets its more difficult to up stakes and start travelling.  Stuff often weighs you down, psychologically, and geographically. If we can stop buying and stop holding onto all that stuff, think of the benefits to be had!  Perhaps we have succeeded in life when all we really want is only what we really need.

Moving on, Jamie and I have saved so much money and eaten a healthier diet by not being able to eat out or go to the pub and I wanted to talk about the benefits of a healthy diet when living with autoimmune disease.  I’m a great believer in cooking and eating good food as it has a very positive impact on our overall wellbeing.

One thing most people in the autoimmunity field agree on is that there’s a lack of evidence-based information about dietary treatments for autoimmune diseases. The best suggestions are that we follow a good diet and exercise regime to attain general health. 

I’ve spoken previously about new evidence supporting the Microbiome and Autoimmunity and this is something I’m continuing to investigate.  I’ve also talked about the importance of Vitamin D which I now take.  The nutritional management of autoimmune disease usually emphasises foods to boost the immune system which I make sure I includeAutoimmune diseases are painful and disruptive to everyday life.  At their core, they have one thing in common: an out-of-control immune response, linked with systemic inflammation and the right diet can help ease pain. In general, I avoid sugar and focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, fish and organic meat.

My stepdaughter Ellie is a fabulous example of what a good diet can achieve.  Ellie has IBS and Fibromyalgia and I also suspect an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, possibly Lupus.   Over the years, Ellie has had to cut out many food groups as they made her feel so ill.  It has taken her a long time to find the right food combinations to suit her and she now eats a pescatarian and low fodmap diet.  I cannot emphasise enough how well Ellie looks and feels; it has made such a difference to every aspect of her life.  She has started an Instagram account (ellie_sw15) diarising her journey to a healthier and fitter lifestyle, including all the recipes and photos of the wonderful food she makes.  Following Ellie’s experience, I’ve seen first-hand how a good nutritional diet can make such a difference to the way we feel both physically and mentally. 

Talking of healthy food, I want to end this week’s blog chatting about fish and chips.  Freshly cooked, piping hot fish and chips, smothered in salt and vinegar, wrapped in newspaper, and eaten outdoors by the sea is just perfect.

The potato is thought to have been brought to England from the New World in the 17th century by Sir Walter Raleigh although it’s believed that the French invented the fried potato chip.  Both Lancashire and London claim to being the first to invent this famous meal – chips were a cheap, staple food of the industrial north whilst fried fish was introduced in London’s East End.

So are fish and chips any good for us, nutritionally? Fish and chips are a valuable source of protein, fibre, iron, and vitamins, providing a third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins for men and nearly half for women.  Apparently, there are now around 8,500 fish and chip shops across the UK, that’s 8 for every 1 McDonald’s, making fish and chips the Brits favourite take-away.

This time next week I’ll be eating my fish and chips by the sea from the best fish and chip shop in the UK and I can’t wait.  I also can’t wait to go to the pub on 4th July and Jamie and I will be first in the queue 😊.  I know, such style, fish and chips and a pint of lager and I’m a very happy girl.  You can take girl out of the North but you can’t take the North out of the girl!

Cheers, Prost, Santé, Yamas, Cin cin, Salud

Until next week, stay safe and #StayAlert xxxx

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